The poorest areas in England are fast food hotspots, according to the latest figures from Public Health England (PHE).
The research shows that there are up to five times more fast food outlets in poorer communities compared with more affluent areas.
PHE has accused these outlets of exposing children to fast food with little or no nutritional information, making it more difficult to choose healthier options.
‘It’s not surprising some children find it difficult to resist the lure of fast food outlets when many neighbourhoods are saturated with them,’ Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said.
‘Local authorities have the power to help shape our environment and support people in making healthier choices.
‘They need to question whether these fast food hotspots are compatible with their work to help families and young children live healthier lives.’
Time for action
Fast food restaurants, such as chip shops, burger bars and pizza places, make up 26% of all eateries in England.
Many local authorities have decided to take action by restricting growth of new takeaways and fast food outlets and PHE is encouraging authorities to learn from each other.
Some have even developed ‘healthier zones’ to try and tackle childhood obesity, limiting fast food outlets in areas with high deprivation or where children gather.
As part of its work to improve the local food environment, PHE supports local authorities’ work with small businesses to provide healthier options.
This can be through using less salt, sugar and saturated fat in their products, as well as offering customers smaller portions and promoting healthier alternatives.
‘One in three children are now overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school,’ Steve Brine, Public Health Minister, said at the launch of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan earlier this week.
‘Dangerous overconsumption, combined with reduced activity, is having a catastrophic effect on our children’s health, limiting their potential and putting them at risk of a shorter life.
‘We all have a responsibility to act before we lose a generation of young people to this entirely avoidable epidemic.
‘We can’t afford to waste time, which is why we’re committing to halve obesity in the next 12 years with bold new action.’
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